Discover the Real Story Behind Cambodia's Heart of Darkness: Phnom Penh's #1 club



ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2010 RE-BLOGGED:
If you happen to meet anyone in the world who's been to Cambodia's capital city and ask where to go at night, that person would most definitely talk about "Heart of Darkness". A night out to this joint will take you to Phnom Penh's darkest secret, no doubt. 

Amidst its awful past, Phnom Penh is a throbbing, lively city where bars/clubs/pubs/even 24-hour brothels are constructed at the river side, lakeside and those secret little alleys such as Equinox, Sharky's, Howie's and Pitstop, just to name a few. But still, nothing compares to the city's arguably #1 clubbing destination... The Heart of Darkness!

The Crowd 

Popular to locals and foreigners alike, this is the place to be for that awesome unforgettable Phnom Penh experience. "Although it's not really branded as a brothel or a strip joint, it seems like it."

On some days, it gets deserted where only a handful of gentlemen at the bar side drink their cold beers while listening to folk and western music. But if you happen to drop by when the real action is happening, you'll be astounded. It's recommended to check out Heart of Darkness at the strike of 12 where people usually get in. Don't worry, as far as i can remember, there's no curfew. Last time i was there, i left around 4AM.

Although the place is a guy territory, foreign women are not shooed away. I once asked some random foreign chick what she thinks of the place, and if she doesn't feel awkward that there's just so many local girls for hire. She said it's a good place to dance and get drunk. And nobody bothers her, anyway. 


The History 

Before i left for Cambodia, i was already looking up at good places to go to at night. And i read somewhere that one club actually closed down because one patron got shot. Apparently, little did i know, its this very same club. 

If you look around Phnom Penh, it's a weird city because at a minute you'll see tuk tuk drivers, and another minute you could see Khmer men and women driving their Hummers or Lexus cars. There are a lot of rich people in Phnom Penh. And talks say that those who are driving are the sons/daughters of rich moguls. 





TIP: If ever you catch them at "Heart of Darkness", stay away and leave them. If they say leave, do so! Just as long as they are not bothered, they won't bother you too. Keep in mind, those dudes are notorious in the city.

The Price 

Beware, prices are for tourists so it's a little pricier than usual but still affordable. A big bottle of Chang or Heineken will cost you around $3. There's cocktails and shooters, but food served are not necessarily worth your money. 

The Ambiance 

There are pool tables to play 8 balls, couches where you can lounge in, a couple of tables to booze up and a good size dance floor where everyone's just getting crazy dancing and prancing. It can get smoky and lights are dimmed. The DJ's are okay, and their play list ranges from trance, house and cheesy pop tunes so get ready.


If you're wondering where it is located, i got their business card and scanned it so you guys can check it out! 

Smile Like There's No Tomorrow in Lake Balinsasayao, Negros Oriental, Philippines


ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED:
Rising above 1000 meters above sea level, hail to one of the gems of Oriental Negros' tourism. A major attraction in the region is the beautiful and awe inspiring 'Twin Lakes'. When you're going to Dumaguete, a day spent in Twin Lakes should be one of the best experiences you could ever have in this side of the world.The calmest and most serene place in the whole province was also my last destination, and i must say.. it couldn't get any better than this.


My guide was persistent that i have to pay a visit to Lake Balinsasayao because he really wanted me to see what this spot has to offer. 6 kilometers from Dumaguete City is the town of Sibulan, and 12 kilometers west of Sibulan + 20 minute scenic ride cruising along impeccable winding paths on high altitude, will get you to Balinsasayao Lake. On my way going there, i rode the motorbike yet again, and passed by such an amazing coastline. The trip was exciting because i got to pass by the national highway and see the beautiful view of the ocean and next door neighboring province, Cebu.


Lake Balinsasayao is a protected national park. Before disembarking, you will have to sign and pay a minimal fee of P10 issued by the Republic of the Philippines to enter. This fee goes to the rehabilitation and protection of the national park. Years have passed, and local hunters and "kaingeros" have continuously cut down timber. This illegal activity has resulted to an alarming rate fall of the water level in the lake. I think this issue needs to be resolved quick before this place turns into a barren basin. 



Here i am finding my balance in a huge tree. (Please ID this tree if this is the Almagica "Almasiga" which is one of the tallest tree in the Philippines rising over 60 meters.) 


Lake Balinsasayao is gaining popularity among adventure-seekers for its beautiful diversity of flora and fauna. From rare species of birds to beautiful and wild orchids, Lake Balinsasayao offers the richest and best ecosystem. Fishing is another popular activity here. Carp, catfish, tilapia are frequently swimming in this fresh water lake and most of the day-trippers would fish and cook their fresh catch. Likewise, you can just ask the local fishermen and buy from them. Native huts are built, where one can rent and enjoy the view of the beautiful lake while savoring a delicious feast. 

If fishing is not your thing, you could rent a boat or a kayak. On the other hand, one can also enjoy the sight from the cliff by trekking to the other side of the ridge. Most people who go here have brought with them their packed meals. if you forgot to bring yours, don't worry because there's a canteen before the descend to the lake. If this was in Thailand, this place would be part of an adventure day tour - hence, a steady inflow of tourists. Let's help out the tourism industry here, shall we?!

By the way, for happy campers it's good to note that there are areas around the lake where you could pitch in your tent. I reckon it would be an awesome experience to camp out here, in the middle of the jungle and just commune with nature.



Be reminded that the water isn't shallow. A few steps from the bank, the water goes to a deep slope which others say descend up to 90 meters. But i couldn't fathom the thought of going to Lake Balinsasayao and not swimming. It's just not right! So, there i was braving the cold water and swimming, together with the little Negrense kids. What a beautiful experience!


Lake Balinsasayao is embraced by four mountains: Mount Mahungot to the south, Mount Kalbasan to the north, Mount Balinsasayao to the east and Mount Guidabon to the west. The air is cool here and the breeze of the wind makes it an ideal place to spend an afternoon. I just loved my stay here even if it was just a short while. Do you know that this portion of Sibulan is said to be the home of a remarkable number of species: 180 different kinds of trees, 113 birds, 27 mammals and 49 reptiles and amphibians, making it a national park?


If there's one thing i regret not doing, it is staying longer here in Lake Balinsasayao. It's so beautiful and calming that i forgot all my worries. All the apprehensions of what was waiting for me when i get back home, all gone and forgotten about. Meditation is a recommended activity here, and as advised - during sunrise and sunset are the best time to enjoy the 'Twin Lakes'. I always found myself weirdly smiling all the time here. It seems there are still places in the world, where one could just forget about the worries of tomorrow, and just smile, like there's no tomorrow.

Save Up and Explore Japan's Most Fabulous District / Visit Roppongi in Tokyo, Japan


ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED:
Almost $4 billion in construction, Roppongi 六本木, lit. "six trees" is aptly called artelligent city located in Roppongi district in Minato, southern Tokyo. I passed by this area en route to Harajuku and was amazed by its luxurious feel. Towering the city area is the ever popular Minoru Mori Tower at 54 storeys. This megatron houses art museums, clinics, cafes, stores and offices of popular Ferrari Japan, Asahi TV, Chevron, Lenovo, and Google. Anime fans should be heading out here because The Pokemon Company holds its headquarters in this building.


If you want to be seen and hang out with the rich and famous, drop by Roppongi Keyazika Street and show off with your best look. Sample the best coffee in one of the many quiant coffee shops while people watching, Roppongi style! Ropponggi is also a big expat hang-out where dozens of embassies and international offices are located. Nightlife is also one of the city’s prime attraction offering friendly bars and clubs to foreign tourists and party animals. A tip during the day i visited, there was a big party at night. If only i knew the right people, that should be an awesome way to party in Roppongi.


One of the most interesting spots while in Roppongi is the giant spider in Roku Roku Plaza. This 10 meter bronze sculpture is called Maman. Crafted by French Artist Louise Bourgeois, if you look closely beneath the spider and look up, you will see intricate details in the body with eggs. One of the many architecture wonders in Ropponggi hills!

There's so much to explore around Roppongi district:

Tokyo City View Mori Tower, 52F. 03-6406-6652. 9:00 AM to midnight.
This viewing deck gives you a 360º view of the city from 250 meters above sea level. Don't buy an admission ticket, it is included in the Mori Art Museum ticket, which is the same price.

Mori Art Museum Mori Tower, 53F. 03-5777-8600. 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM, until 5:00 PM on Tues. [3] (http://www.mori.art.museum) This impressive art gallery hosts special exhibitions. Ticket prices vary, but students and tickets bought at 7-Eleven convenience stores and Pia ticket vendor receive a discount. The museum ticket includes admission to Tokyo City View.

Mori Urban Institute for the Future Mori Tower, 50F. 03-6406-6636. Mon to Thu 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, until 10:00 PM Fri to Sun and holidays. [4] (http://www.tokyocityview.com).
Shopping and dining. In the first several floors of Mori Tower and the adjoining buildings, there are heaps of shopping spots, nearly all are upscale. Similarly, most of the restaurants have a lot of style, and with prices to match.

Virgin Toho Cinemas 03-5775-6090 [5] (http://www.tohocinemas.co.jp). If you are going to put down the going rate of nearly ¥1800 for a movie in Tokyo, this is the place to do it. The nine-screen cinema has futuristic decor, THX and reserved seating. This theatre is open all night, so you can catch a movie if you are staying out late and are planning to catch the morning train.




From Tokyo Station:
15 minutes, 160 yen by Marunouchi and Hibiya Subway Lines via Kasumigaseki Station.

From Shinjuku Station: 
10 minutes, 210 yen by direct Oedo Subway Line.

Additional information sourced from here, here and here

Suggested itinerary sourced from here

A Very Special Message to a Beloved Province: Marinduque, Philippines


ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2010 RE-BLOGGED:
I started my journey to the island province of Marinduque riding on top of a jeepney. I knew right there and then, this trip would be memorable. With no expectations at all, this particular place etched a favorable spot in my heart.

It is indeed the land of simple-living and gentle people -- where money is not a priority and friendships are indeed treasured, where everyone is welcome, amidst the close knit of families here. I could have been bored with the lack of modernity around, instead, i was continuously amazed by how so much simplicity made all the difference in me.


As i write this story (for the tenth time), within the comforts of my room, i would surely want to exchange this for something back there. I would trade a cool, pampered life with laid back simple living.

Time is slow.

Time is well spent. 

Time is treasured. 

Time is kept.

Our daily worries become extinct in this province. The people here don't care about missed deadlines, they care about missed rains. I was chatting with a charming old lady one hot afternoon and that was what she said. As i look back, i realized that life isn't about complications. It's all about simple joys!

Amidst the never-ending talks of witchcraft here, i could vow to prove it otherwise. No, there are no "Aswangs" or "Manananggals" in this province.

We're all quick to judge.

Truth is, were judging ourselves.

On my last night in this province, i almost lost my way back to my shack. With only the full moon as the light, with dogs barking and unknown creatures lurking, imagine the fear and anxiety building upon me. A man suddenly appears and helped me find my way back home. With relatively no expectations of a reward, it dawned on me... I'm lucky to be here.

This province has changed me in so many ways.

-----

Living in the city is living worry-free. But i highly recommend you visit this magical province. It's one of the hidden gems of this country. 


The nature, the wonders, the mysteries and the people...

Amidst the missed ferries and broken relationships, God has paved a way for me to discover this place.

With its beauty and splendor...

What a pleasure it was, i know i will never forget, for the rest of my life.

Marinduque, you are special!


XxX

Getting Loco Over Kaiten-Zushi / Food Trippin' in One of Fukuoka's Biggest Conveyor Belt Sushi Bars


ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED:
I saw too many revolving sushi bars in Kyoto and Osaka, so when i was in Fukuoka, couldn't pass another day not going to one. I've been so fascinated how it is to eat in a sushi bar like this. A Conveyor Belt Sushi Bar 回転寿司 kaiten-zushi is the fast food of sushi. I've seen too many cheeky music videos set up in a sushi bar in Japan but this time, I'm making things happen and enjoying a lunch date with my host family. So, just imagine my delight once i stepped inside one of Fukuoka's biggest Kaiten-zushi! It's amazing how packed it is during lunch time. Groups of friends and family ordering like there's no tomorrow. It's quite affordable and they serve fresh and tasty Sushi, Sashimi and other short orders. An experience like no other, i must say!


When we got there, the place was packed with so many people. We had to fall in line for a bit because all tables were taken already. Remember that in order to find a place that serves the freshest sushi, the place has to be busy. If there's no one there, head to the next sushi bar. This means new sushi and sashimi are served every few minutes. When I got to the table, i was clueless how everything works. So, my good friend taught me how it works around here which i am about to share with you now. 

5 Steps to ordering your Sushi in a Revolving Sushi Bar

1. Pick a number and fall in line. Wait for your number to flash on the screen. The attendant will then lead you to your table.

2. You can now order for your drinks: fruits and other desserts, beers, colas and water are available. There's a complimentary tea available, too. Things move fast here, you'll get your drinks in no time.

2. Condiments like soy sauce, fresh pickles, and chopsticks are available on every table so no need to ask for one.

3. Pick any type of sushi you fancy. Plates of Sushi and Sashimi pass through your table or counter seat. Grab a plate and enjoy. Try out everything!

4. For special orders, you can press a button to ask for the attendant. He/she will be glad to assist you with your needs if your order is available. For small orders, the chef will place a signage with your table number on it. 

5. Press the button again when you're done eating. The waiter will count the number of plates in your table to know your bill. Prices are great value for your money. This restaurant in particular serves 100 Yen per plate which is around P50 or $1. Not bad at all.


Crab sticks with mayonnaise 


Flying fish eggs / Fish Roe or Tobiko


Salmon with cream cheese


This is one of my happiest meals ever. I wanted to try everything but i was stuffed already. Okay, call me chicken but i didn't try the Unagi. It's suppose to be the most popular dish in the Kyushu region, apart from the Ramen noodles. The thought of giggling/moving eel was enough to make me say no. I mean, i don't eat pork so Unagi was a given. I am not really that adventurous when it comes to food.


I've tried out almost everything including Maguro, Kanburi, Tamago, Aburi Engawa, Shrimp and Pumpkin Tempura, Hirame and of course, Maki. With so many sushi and sashimi plates cleared, it's hard for me to choose my personal favorite but i have to say it's the salmon with cream cheese. I think i had four plates of that which means i had eight. This conveyor belt sushi bar is a good place to go to for foreigners because you don't have to go through ordering sushi per sushi and then asking what's in it to a non-speaking waiter. Highly affordable and the food was excellent! For food connoisseurs, going to a conveyor belt sushi bar is an excellent way to sample the best of Japan's most popular dish! 

Watch out for more Sushi and Sashimi stories in my Tokyo post! Kampai!!!